An Oral History Interview with MICHAEL M. CERNEA (interviewer: Judith Freidenberg)
Author(s)MICHAEL M. CERNEA
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AbstractThe editors and editorial board of Human Organization are pleased to introduce readers to the following oral history interview with Michael M. Cernea, a development social scientist who has militated throughout his academic career and applied work for "putting people first", in the forefront of development projects and policies. Working for a long time for the promotion of anthropological and sociological knowledge, either in the activities of the World Bank or in the policies and programs of governments of both developed and developing countries, Dr. Cernea cleared pathways for applied social science that are sure to benefit people in development settings for many years to come. Undoubtedly many readers already know Dr. Cernea's work well, especially those of us who teach the anthropology of development or work in applied settings and organizations, but this interview embeds his broad body of work into a personal, human, and at times tragic context that opens with brushes with death, Nazi brutality, and exile. It also provides valuable insights for carrying out the work of development anthropologists within large-scale organizations and governments.This interview with Dr. Cernea was conducted by Dr. Judith Freidenberg, of the University of Maryland, on June 30, 2003, for the Society for Applied Anthropology Oral History Project, headquartered at the University of Kentucky Libraries. This Project aims to create, through the vehicle of oral histories, a record of the life, activities and experiences of number of selected scholars-anthropologists who devoted a great part of their scientific work to research, to applied work in different settings, to inducing development, including to hands-on work on crafting public social policies and actual development programs. The present transcript of the interview was reviewed by both participants for editorial purposes. Michael M. Cernea expanded some of his oral responses, for historical accuracy or to add relevant elements and facts not provided in the initial oral interaction. Some of the comments made, or questions asked, by Judith Freidenberg were also edited for fluency purposes, to help frame the various parts of the dialogue better. The overall content and structure of the interview were preserved. The subtitles were added during Human Organization's preparation and editing of the text for print.